Chithra Ghosh & Another vs Union Of India And Others on 25 April, 1969

Supreme Court of India
Chithra Ghosh & Another vs Union Of India And Others on 25 April, 1969
Equivalent citations: 1970 AIR 35, 1970 SCR (1) 413
Author: A Grover
Bench: Hidayatullah, M. (Cj), Shelat, J.M., Bhargava, Vishishtha, Hegde, K.S., Grover, A.N.
           PETITIONER:
CHITHRA GHOSH & ANOTHER

	Vs.

RESPONDENT:
UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS

DATE OF JUDGMENT:
25/04/1969

BENCH:
GROVER, A.N.
BENCH:
GROVER, A.N.
HIDAYATULLAH, M. (CJ)
SHELAT, J.M.
BHARGAVA, VISHISHTHA
HEGDE, K.S.

CITATION:
 1970 AIR   35		  1970 SCR  (1) 413
 1969 SCC  (2) 228
 CITATOR INFO :
 R	    1971 SC1439	 (4,7)
 R	    1971 SC1762	 (22,42,48,49)
 R	    1971 SC2560	 (13)
 RF	    1972 SC  13	 (12)
 D	    1972 SC1375	 (35)
 R	    1975 SC 563	 (38)
 R	    1979 SC 765	 (20)
 RF	    1980 SC1255	 (21)
 RF	    1983 SC1235	 (5)
 R	    1989 SC 903	 (21,22,23)
 RF	    1992 SC   1	 (119)


ACT:
Constitution  of  India Arts. 14, 15(1) and (2)	 and  29(2)-
Rules  of  centrally  Administered  college  providing	 for
reservation  of seats for specified categories of  students-
Power to Central Government to nominate students to seats on
the basis of classification-If valid.



HEADNOTE:
The  appellants	 passed the pre-medical examination  of	 the
Delhi University in April, 1968 and obtained over 62% marks,
They applied for admission to the first year M.B.B.S. Course
at  the Maulana Azad Medical College which is a	 constituent
of  the	 University  of Delhi and  was	established  by	 the
Government  of	India  in  1958.   The	college	  prospectus
contained  certain  rules  relating  to	 the  admission	  of
students which made reservations of places in the college in
favour	of various categories of students and  provided	 for
nominations  to	 be made by the Central Government  to	fill
some  of the reserved places.  The appellants'	applications
for admission to the college were rejected.  Thereafter they
filed a writ petition challenging primarily the power of the
Central	 Government  to make the nominations  and  contended
that nine students nominated by the Government had  obtained
lower  marks in the pre-medical examination so that if	they
were to be excluded, the appellants would be entitled to  be
admitted  in  the  college.  The High  Court  dismissed	 the
petition.
It  ",as  contended  on behalf of the  appellants  that	 the
provisions  in the rules for reservation of seats  were	 not
based  on any reasonable classification and  were  therefore
violative of Art. 14 of the Constitution: further more, they
also  violated	clauses (1) and (4) of Art. 15	as  well  as
clause	(2)  of Art, 29. It was further contended  that	 the
nominations to the reserved seats were	also contrary to the
rules.
HELD :	  dismissing the appeal
(i) The	  first	 group	of  persons  for  whom	seats	were
reserved  were the sons and daughters of residents of  Union
territories other than Delhi.  These areas are well known to
be comparatively backward and with the exception of Himachal
Pradesh	 they do not have any Medical College of their	own.
It was necessary that persons desirous of receiving  medical
education from these areas should be provided some  facility
for doing so.  As regards the sons and daughters of  Central
Government servants posted in Indian Missions abroad, it  is
equally	 well known that due to exigencies of service  these
persons	 are  faced  with  difficulties	 in  the  matter  of
education.   Apart from the problems of language, it is	 not
easy  or always possible to get admission into	institutions
imparting  medical  education  in  foreign  countries.	 The
reservations  for  the cultural, Colombo Plan  and  Thailand
scholars  were made by reason of reciprocal arrangements  of
educational and cultural nature.  The reservations in favour
of Jammu and Kashmir scholars were also justifiable as there
were  inadequate arrangements for medical education  in	 the
State  itself.	 The classification in all these  cases	 was
based  on intelligible differentia which distinguished	them
from the group to which the appellants belonged. [418C-F]
414
The  object of the classification by the Central  Government
who  maintained	 and ran the institution was to	 select	 the
best  available students from sources as classified  in	 the
rules and the classification therefore had a rational  nexus
with the object to be achieved. [419C]
Shri  Ram Krishna Dalmia v. Shri Justice S. R.	Tendolkar  &
Others	[1959]	S.C.R. 279; Minor P. Rajendran v.  State  of
Madras,	 [1968]	 2  S.C.R. 786; Umesh Ch.  Sinha  v.  V.  N.
Singh, Principal P.M.C. & Hospital and Ors.  I.L.R. 46 Patna
616 referred to.
There  was  no	discrimination	against	 the  appellants  on
grounds	 only  of religion, race, caste,  language,  sex  or
place of birth and therefore there was no violation of	Art.
15 or Art. 29.
(ii) The appellants did not have any right to challenge	 the
nominations made    by the Central Government.	They did not
compete for the reserved seats	   and	had no locus  standi
in  the	 matter	 of  nomination	 of  two  such	seats.	 The
contention that if nominations to reserved seats were not in
accordance  with the rules, such seats must be	regarded  as
not  having been properly filled and must be thrown open  to
the  general  pool,  was  wholly  unfounded.   The   Central
Government was under no obligation to release those seats to
the general pool.  Although in the larger interest of giving
maximum benefit to candidates belonging to the	non-reserved
seats,	the  Central Government could and did  release	some
seats, if could not be compelled to do so at the instance of
students  who  had  applied for admission from	out  of	 the
categories' for whom seats had not been reserved. [42OC-E]



JUDGMENT:

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal No. 452 of 1969.
Appeal from the judgment and order dated December 3, 1968 of
the Delhi High Court in Civil Writ Petition No. 817 of 1968.
B. C. Misra and M. V. Goswami, for the appellants.
B. Sen and S. P. Nayar, for respondents Nos. 1, 2 and 4.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Grover, J. This is an appeal by certificate from a judgment
of the Delhi High Court dismissing a petition filed by the
appellants under Arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution in
the matter of their. admission to the Maulana Azad Medical
College, New Delhi, hereinafter called the “Medical College”
The appellants are residents of Delhi. They passed the pre-
medical examination of the Delhi University held in April
1968 and obtained 62.5% marks. In June 1968 they applied
for admission to the first year M.B., B.S. class at the Lady
Harding Medical College, New Delhi but they were not
admitted. Thereafter they applied for admission to the
Maulana Azad Medical College. This college, which is a
constituent of the University of Delhi, was established by
the Government of India in June 1958. According to the
college prospectus, 125 students are admitted annually; 15%
seats are reserved for schedule caste candidates and
415
5% for scheduled tribes candidates, 25% of the seats
(excluding the seats reserved for Government of India
nominees) are reserved for girl students who are taken on
the basis of merit. The following categories of students
only are eligible for admission

(a) Residents of Delhi………………

(b) (i) Sons/Daughters of Central Government
Servants posted in Delhi at the time, of the
admission.

(ii) Candidate whose father is dead and is
wholly dependent on brother/sister who is a
Central Government Servant posted in Delhi at
the time of the admission.

(c) Sons/Daughters of residents of Union
Territories specified below including
displaced persons registered therein and
sponsored by their respective Administration
of Territory :-

	      (i)   Himachal  Pradesh  (ii)  Tripura   (iii)
	      Manipur (iv)    Naga  Hills (v) N.E.F.A.	(vi)
	      Andaman.

(d) Sons/Daughters of Central Government
servants posted in Indian Missions abroad.

(e) Cultural Scholars.

(f) Colombo Plan Scholars.

(g) Thailand Scholars.

(h) Jammu & Kashmir State Scholars.

According to the note 23 seats are reserved for categories

(c) to (h) above. The minimum percentage of marks which a
candidate seeking admission must have obtained in the
aggregate of compulsory subjects is 55.

Now the appellants had obtained 62.5% marks and were
domiciled in Delhi. According to them they were entitled to
admission and would have been admitted but for the
reservation of the seats which were filled by nominations by
the Central Government. In the year 1968 when the
appellants sought admission 9 students had been nominated by
the Central Government out of the 23 seats which had ‘been
reserved for categories (c) to (h) mentioned above. These
students had obtained less percentage of marks than the
appellants. The appellants filed a writ petition in the
High Court challenging primarily the power of the Central
Government to make the nominations. It was prayed that
these nominations be struck down and the respondents (Union
of India, Medical College, University of Delhi etc.) be
directed to admit the -appellants and all other students who
were eligible strictly in
416
the order of merit. The writ petition was disposed of by a
division bench of the High Court. The authority of the
Central Government to select candidates for the reserved
seats was upheld. It was, however, found that among the
nine seats filled in the Medical College by the Government,
two nominations had been made contrary to the admission
rules. The High Court was of the view that these two seats
would also become a part of the general pool for admission
of candidates on merit. The order was, therefore, made in
the -following terms :

“We, therefore, direct the respondents 1 to 4 as follows :
two seats shall be filled immediately for admission to the
first year M.B., B.S. Course of the College from the merit
list in which petitioner No. 1 is number 4 and petitioner
No. 2 is number 9. The respondents 1 to 4 shall immediately
enquire from the candidates who are above the petitioners in
order of merit whether they want the admissions and on their
failure to reply in a short time or on their refusal to
accept the offer, the admission shall be made either of the
petitioners or of other candidates who are above them in the
merit list within one week from today.”

In December 1968, the appellants filed a petition under s.
114 and 0. 47, R. 1 read with s. 141, Civil Procedure Code
seeking a review of the judgment and order dated December 3,
1968. This petition was dismissed by the High Court by a
detailed order dated January 27, 1969. On February 1, 1969,
a petition was filed under Arts. 133 (1) (c) and 132(1) of
the Constitution for leave to appeal to this Court. In the
prayer leave was sought against the judgment dismissing the
writ petition -as also the order by which the review
petition was disposed of. In the certificate, however, in
the heading only the judgment dated December 3, 1968 is men-
tioned. It would appear that the certificate was limited to
the appeal against the writ petition. This would be so
because under 0. 47, R. 7 the order of the court rejecting
the application for review is not appealable. If the
appellants desired to challenge that order it could have
been done only by -asking for leave of this Court under Art.
136 which was never done. In these circumstances the
arguments of Mr. B. C. Misra for the appellants were
confirmed to the matters decided by the judgment dated
December 3, 1968.

It is common ground that the University of Delhi is a
statutory body incorporated by the Delhi University Act of
1922 as amended from time to time. Under S. 30 of that Act
Ordinances can be made providing for various matters which
include the admission of students to the University and
their enrolment as such. Ordinance 11 provides that there
shall be a Medical Courses Admission
417
Committee. It -is this committee which finalises the cases
of admission except those which are to be referred to the
Standing Committee on -account of any special features. The
Medical Courses Admission Committee at its meeting held on
November 5, 1965, recognised that 23 seats in the Medical
College shall be reserved for certain categories for
nomination. This reservation was approved by the Standing
Committee of the Academic Council of the Delhi University
and finally by the Academic Council itself by means of a
resolution dated March 3, 1966. In the High Court and
before us both sides argued on the footing that the rules
set out in the prospectus of the Medical College relating to
admission have statutory sanction and are not of a purely
administrative nature.

Before the High Court only two questions were raised. The
first was whether the provision for reservation of seats was
unconstitutional. The second was whether the nominations to
the reserved seats had been made contrary to the rules. Mr.
Misra has amplified the first submission-by urging that the
reservation of seats for admission to the Medical College
was not based on any reasonable classification and suffered
from the vice of discrimination. According to him such
reservation was hit by Art. 14 read with clauses (1) and (4)
of Art. 15 and clause (2) of Art.- 29 of the Constitution.
In addition the system of nominations being made by the
Government and not by the Admission Committee was per se
discriminatory.

Article 29(2) may be read first. It says, no citizen shall
be denied admission into any educational institution
maintained by the State-or receiving aid out of State funds
on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of
them. Under clause (1) of Art. 15 the State cannot
discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of
religion, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them. Clause
(4), however, provides that nothing in the Article shall
prevent the State from making any special provision for the
advancement of any socially and educationally backward
classes of citizens or for the scheduled castes and tribes.
According to Mr. Misra the categories (c) to (h) contained
in Rule 4 relating to eligibility for admission for whom
seats are reserved do not fall within the exception
contained in cl. 4 of Art. 15. The persons in these
categories, it is said, cannot be regarded -as socially and
educationally backward classes of citizens nor can it be
supposed that all of them must belong to schedule castes and
tribes.

We are unable to see how Art. 15(1) can be invoked in the
present case. The rules do not discriminate between any
citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place
of birth or any of them. Nor is Art 29(2) of any assistance
to the appellants. They are not being denied admission into
the Medical College on
418
grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of
them. This brings us to Art. 14. It is claimed that merit
should be the sole criterion and as soon as other factors
like those mentioned in clauses (c) to (h) of Rule 4 are
introduced, discrimination becomes apparent.
As laid down in Shri Ram Krishna Dalmia v. Shri Justice S.
R. Tendolkar & Others
(1), Art. 14 forbids class legislation
it does not forbid reasonable classification. In order to
pass the test of permissible classification two conditions
must be fulfilled, (i) that the classification is founded on
intelligible differentia which distinguishes persons or
things that are grouped together from others left out of the
group and, (ii) that that differentia must have a rational
relation to the object sought to be achieved. The .first
group of persons for whom seats have been reserved are the
sons and daughters of residents of Union territories other
than Delhi. These areas are well known to be comparatively
backward and with the exception of Himachal Pradesh they do
not have any Medical College of their own. It was necessary
that persons desirous of receiving medical education from
these areas should be provided some facility for doing so.
As regards the sons and daughters of Central Government
servants posted in Indian Missions abroad it is equally well
known that due to exigencies of their service these persons
are faced with lot of difficulties in the matter of
education. Apart from the problems of language, it is not
easy or always possible to get admission into institutions
imparting medical education in foreign countries. The
cultural, Colombo Plan and Thailand scholars are given
admission in medical institutions in this country by reason
of reciprocal arrangements of educational and cultural
nature. Regarding Jammu & Kashmir scholars it must be
remembered that the problems relating to them are of a
peculiar nature and there do not exist adequate arrangements
for medical education in the State itself for its residents.
The classification in all these cases is based on
intelligible differentia which distinguishes them from the
group to which the appellants belong.

It is the Central Government which bears the financial
burden of running the medical college. It is for it to lay
down the criteria for eligibility. From the very nature of
things it is not possible to throw the admission open to
students from all over the country. The Government cannot
be denied the right to decide from what sources the

-admission will be made. That essentially is a question of
policy and depends inter-alia on an overall assessment and
survey of the requirements of residents of particular
territories and other categories of Persons for whom it is
essential to provide facilities for medical education. , If
the sources are properly
(1) [1959] S.C.R. 279.

419

classified whether on territorial, geographical or
other reasonable basis it is not for the courts to interfere
with the manner and method of making the classification.
The next question that has to be determined is whether the
differentia on which classification has been made has
rational relation with the object to be -achieved. The main
purpose of admission to a medical college is to impart
education in’ the theory and practice of medicine. As
noticed before the sources from which students have to be
drawn are primarily- determined by the authorities who
maintain and run the institution, e.g, the Central Gov-
ernment in the present case. In Minor P. Rajendran v. State
of Madras
(1) it has been stated that the object of selection
for admission is to secure the best possible material. This
can surely be achieved by making proper rules in the matter
of selection but there can be no doubt that such selection
has to be confined to, the sources that are intended to
supply the material. If the sources have been classified in
the manner done in the present case it is difficult to see
how that classification has no rational nexus with the
object of imparting medical education and also of selection,
for the purpose.

The case of Minor P. Rajendran(1) is clearly
distinguishable, because there the classification had been
made district-wise which was considered to have no
reasonable relation with the object sought to be achieved.
Nor can the decision of a full bench of’the Patna High Court
in Umesh Ch. Sinha v. V. N. Singh, Principal, P.M.C. &
Hospital & Ors. (2) be of any avail to the appellants. In
that case preferential treatment had been given to the
children.. of the employees of the Patna University in the
matter of admission to the Patna Medical College. It was
held that there was no,, reasonable nexus between the
principle governing -admission to the college on the one
hand and the pecuniary difficulties or the meritorious
services rendered by the employees of the University on,,
the other and that preferential treatment to the children of
these employees would amount to favoritism and patronage.
There,. is no question of any preferential treatment being
accorded to any particular category or class of persons
desirous of -receiving medical education in the present
case. The mete fact that the Central Government has to make
the nominations with regard to the reserved seats cannot be
considered to be preferential treatment of any kind. As the
candidates for the reserved seats have to be drawn from
different sources it would be difficult to have uniformity
in the matter of selection from amongst them. The High
Court was right in saying that the standards of the
examinations passed by them, the subjects studied by them
and the educational back–

(1) [1968] 2 S.C.R. 786.

(2) I.L.R. 46 Patna. 616′
420
ground of each of them would be different and divergent and
therefore the Central Government was the appropriate
authority which could make a proper selection out of those
categories. Moreover this is being done with the tacit
approval and consent of the Medical Courses Admission
Committee. -It appears that the Central Government has been
acting in a very reasonable way inasmuch as when nominations
were made only to nine seats the rest were thrown open to
the general pool.

The other question which was canvassed before the High Court
and which has been pressed before us relates to the merits
of the nominations made to the reserved seats. It seems to
us that the appellants do not have -any right to challenge
the nominations made by the Central Government. They do not
compete for the reserved seats and have no locus standi in
the matter of nomination to such seats. The assumption that
if nominations to reserved seats are not in accordance with
the rules all such seats as have not been properly filled up
would be thrown open to the general pool is wholly
unfounded. The Central Government is under no obligation to
release those seats to the general pool. It may in the
larger interest of giving maximum benefit to candidates
belonging to the non-reserved seats release them but it
cannot be compelled to do so -at the instance of students
who have applied for admission from out of the categories
for whom seats have not been reserved. In our opinion the
High Court was in error in going into the question and
holding that out of the nine seats filled by nomination two
had been filled contrary to the admission rules and these
would be converted into the general pool. Since no appeal
has been filed against that part of the order we refrain
from making any further observations in the matter.
Finally Mr. Misra attempted to agitate the question of some
of the nominations being illegal as the candidates who had
been nominated had not applied in time-the prescribed date
being August 1, 1968. This contention cannot be entertained
for two reasons. The first is that no such point appears to
have been raised before the High Court when the writ
petition was disposed of on December 3, 1968. It is only at
the stage of review that this matter seems to have been
pressed. Secondly it has been held by us that the
appellants had no right to challenge the nominations which
had been made by the Central Government. It was not,
therefore, open to them to assail any of the nominations
which had been made.

The appeal fails and it is dismissed with no order as to
costs.

R.K.P.S.	       Appeal dismissed.
421



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